Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

President Donald Trump takes a question from a reporter before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. President Donald Trump takes a question from a reporter before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

President Donald Trump takes a question from a reporter before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

By Stefanie Pousoulides June 20, 2019

Trump said 52% of women voted for him in 2016. That’s misleading. It refers only to white women

ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos spent two days following and interviewing President Donald Trump ahead of Trump’s re-election campaign kick-off in Florida. In one of a series of interviews, Stephanopoulos asked Trump about his pitch to undecided swing voters.

"Safety, security, great economy," Trump said, before veering off to his 2016 victory and claiming that he "did very well" with women voters. Stephanopoulos pushed back, pointing out that Trump "didn't win women" in 2016.

"Well, I got 52%," Trump said, according to an ABC News transcript. "And I will tell you — in my opinion I might have won women. ... Hey, Hillary Clinton focused on women, and I did phenomenally well. Many, many, many points above what they thought."

This wasn’t the first time Trump mentioned the 52%. At a March 2018 rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told the crowd:

"Hey, didn’t we surprise them with women during the election? Remember? ‘Women won’t like Donald Trump.’ I said, ‘Have I really had that kind of a problem? I don‘t think so.’ But, ‘Women won’t like Donald Trump. It will be a rough night for Donald Trump because the women won’t come out.’ We got 52%. Right? 52. Right?"

Trump’s 52% claim is misleading, because it only refers to a subset of women — white women. He didn’t specify that during the March 2018 rally nor in the ABC interview nor during five other events we found him citing the statistic. The Trump campaign declined to comment.

"The exit polls make it clear that Trump did not win women," said Jennifer Lawless, Commonwealth professor of politics at the University of Virginia.

Pundits believed Trump would not do well with women because he was running against someone who could become the country’s first woman president and because of sexual assault allegations against him. However, regardless of the candidate, one’s political party identification is the best indicator of whom a voter will elect — and white women consistently vote Republican, political science researchers told PolitiFact.

"Political party is by far the greatest predictor of presidential vote choice, beyond ideology, gender, race and other factors," said Rebecca Kreitzer, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "This is why it isn't surprising Republican women voted for Trump — partisanship is a stronger predictor of vote choice than gender."

Polling data counter Trump’s claim

Trump didn’t win a majority of the women vote in 2016. He received 41%, while 54% of women voted for Hillary Clinton, according to exit poll data conducted by Edison Research.

Trump, however, did garner 52% of white women votes. Overall, he won 52% of votes by men and 62% of votes by white men, exit poll data suggests.

Featured Fact-check

 

However, "exit polls do not always paint an accurate portrait of the electorate," said Ashley Jardina, an assistant professor of political science at Duke University. "They are not random and nationally representative and tend to overreport the voting behavior of people willing to stop and talk to pollsters."

Jardina pointed to a study by the Pew Research Center that used data on confirmed 2016 voters and attempted to account for bias in exit polls.

According to the Pew study, 39% of all women voted for Trump, as did 47% of white women. (No group of women voters supported him at 52% or above.)

Analysis of national election data has consistently shown that white women favor Republican candidates over Democratic ones, Jardina said.

The gender gap in the 2016 presidential election was the highest ever recorded in the history of exit polls, according to data from Edison Research cited by the Washington Post.

This gender gap of 24 points isn’t that shocking in context with recent elections, said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, because it has been steadily increasing since Reagan’s election in 1980.

"That doesn’t mean that the GOP candidate can’t win women," said Lawless, the University of Virginia professor. "But it’s a tougher road."

Support from women is a consistent talking point for Trump. Before Election Day in 2016, he falsely claimed to have "tremendous" support from women, even though, on average, he lagged behind Clinton in the polls. He also claimed that Clinton didn't "do very well with women" — polling data showed that his claim was Pants on Fire.

Our ruling

Trump said, "Well, I got 52% (of women voters). And I will tell you — in my opinion I might have won women. ... Hey, Hillary Clinton focused on women, and I did phenomenally well."

According to exit poll data, 41% of all women voted for Trump in 2016. Trump’s 52% claim refers to his share of white women.

Another measure from a Pew Research Center study — using only validated voters and taking potential bias of exit polling into account — found that 39% of all women and 47% of white women voted for Trump.

Trump’s statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

Our Sources

ABC News, Transcript: ABC News' George Stephanopoulos' exclusive interview with President Trump, June 16, 2019

CSPAN, President Trump in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, March 10, 2018

CNN, Exit polls for the national president, November 23, 2016

Edison Research, Behind the Numbers: The 2016 National Election Exit Poll, November 10, 2016

Phone and email interview with Rebecca Kreitzer, assistant professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, June 18, 2019 and June 20, 2019

Email interview with Ashley Jardina, assistant professor of political science at Duke University, June 19, 2019

Email interview with Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, June 17, 2019

Email interview with Jennifer Lawless, Commonwealth professor of politics at the University of Virginia, June 18, 2019

Washington Post, Trump celebrates winning 52 percent of women in 2016 — which is only how he did among whites, March 10, 2018

Associated Press, AP FACT CHECK: Trump inflates his share of women’s votes, March 11, 2018

Pew Research Center, An examination of the 2016 electorate, based on validated voters, August 9, 2018

Politics of Color, Hiding in Plain Sight: White Women Vote Republican, November 13, 2016

Pew Research Center, Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education, November 9, 2019

Washington Post, The unexpected voters behind the widest gender gap in recorded election history, November 9, 2019

Barbara Norrander, "The Evolution of the Gender Gap" in The Public Opinion Quarterly, Winter 1999

PolitiFact, Trump wrongly claims tremendous support from women, November 4, 2016

PolitiFact, Donald Trump wrong that Hillary Clinton 'doesn’t do very well with women,’ May 2, 2016

Factbase videos, Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Erie, PA - October 10, 2018, October 10, 2018

Factbase videos, Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Richmond, Kentucky - October 13, 2018, October 13, 2018

Factbase videos, Press Conference - Complete: Donald Trump Press Conference - New York - September 26, 2018, September 26, 2018

Factbase videos, Speech: Donald Trump Addresses Ohio Republican Party State Dinner - August 24, 2018, August 24, 2018

Factbase videos, Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Wilkes-Barre, PA - August 2, 2018, August 2, 2018

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Stefanie Pousoulides

Trump said 52% of women voted for him in 2016. That’s misleading. It refers only to white women

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up